Monthly Archives: May 2014

Boasting about Tomorrow

The wise king Solomon wrote: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Pro. 27:1). It is very easy to get comfortable with the things of this life and to devote oneself fully and completely to its daily pursuits. In doing so, we often feel that we have all the time in the world for our desired projects and activities.

It is often natural for us to brag about some great thing we are about to do, or some trip we are about to take; but Solomon’s proverb is a word of caution to us all, for we do not really know what tomorrow holds. It has often been proven that the end of life can come to anyone, at any place, anytime and we can never know when that time might be.

James wrote about it this way: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (Jam. 4:13-16).

Let us be very careful about how we approach tomorrow, for there are no guarantees we will be there to see it. The rich fool illustrates a man who basked in his riches, but forgot about God, and lost it all at the pinnacle of his life (Luke 12:16-21).

Finally, let us ensure that we focus our efforts in life toward obedience to God. While we may live many years and have many opportunities to do what is right, our only guarantee is right now. Take advantage of what you have before you today.

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The Repeat Button

Eleven-year-old Jason was outside on a sunny Saturday afternoon. While there were many things that Jason enjoyed, among his favorites was baseball. He always seemed to have a ball, glove and bat with him wherever he went.

On this particular afternoon he was in his yard tossing a ball in the air and hitting it with his bat. Everyone else was busy in the house and he was enjoying some time to himself, pretending he was his favorite baseball player about to hit a home run to win the game.

This time, as he threw the ball up into the air, he made particularly solid contact. The ball took a path over the corner of the house toward the driveway. While he thought he had moved far enough away to be out of danger of hitting his parent’s vehicles, the crash that followed a moment later told him that was not the case.

As he ran to see what the damage was, he was hoping that it was nothing more than a dent or a broken headlight. As he rounded the corner of the house, his heart sank and his fear rose. Standing before him was his father’s pick-up truck, which was now missing a large portion of the windshield.

Oh no,” Jason thought, “Dad’s going to kill me!” He quickly tried to figure out what to do. He was sure that telling his dad what had happened was not the way to go. That would only make matters worse and he would probably be grounded until next summer.

Thinking quickly, he ran to the truck, retrieved the ball and scampered with ball and bat to the back yard where he had left his equipment bag. “Maybe if I get everything out of sight in time Dad won’t believe it was me.” He thought.

Just as he was getting his stuff put away, he heard the sound he most dreaded.

“Jason, come here!” came the call from his father

As Jason made his way to the front of the house again, he thought about what he should say. “I’ll just pretend I don’t know what happened,” he thought, “That will work better than trying to invent a story.”

“What happened here?” His father asked as soon as he rounded the corner of the house. He was standing on the porch just outside the door, a hard look on his face and his hands on his hips.

“I don’t know, Dad.” Jason said, a lump forming in his throat. “What could have done that?” The words were harder to bring out than they seemed in his thoughts just a moment ago.

His father stood there, looking at him, not saying a word. Jason could tell he was seeing right through him and his decision to lie was looking worse with each passing moment. “But what else could I have done?”

“Son, we both know that you aren’t telling me the truth.” His father said. “It is written all over your face.”

He pulled a small box out of his pocket. It fit in the palm of his hand and had a small green button in the center of it.

“I am going to give you something my father gave me when I was a boy,” He said. “This is a repeat button. It will only work for a person once. After that, it is nothing more than a box. It will move you back in time five minutes and give you the opportunity to fix a mistake that you have made.” As he handed the box to Jason, he said: “I think now would be a good time for you to use it.”

Jason thought about it a moment. “Maybe if I use it and tell the truth, everything will be fine and I won’t be in trouble.” He took the box and with a look at his father, pressed the green button.

Instantly, Jason was next to the shattered windshield of the truck, but his father was nowhere to be found. He knew what he needed to do.

“Dad!” He called as he headed for the door. “I need to show you something!”

As his father came out, he looked at the truck, then at Jason.

“What happened here?” He asked.

“I was playing baseball in the yard,” Jason explained, “and when I hit the ball last time it came down over the corner of the house and hit the windshield. It was an accident, Dad, I promise!”

His father heaved a big sigh. “I believe you, son.” He said slowly. After thinking for a moment he added, “It’s going to take a few weeks of extra chores and service projects to equal the payment for a new windshield, but I’m very thankful you told me the truth this time.”

Jason’s relief evaporated at his father’s last statement. “What do you mean, ‘this time?’”

“What I didn’t tell you,” his father said, “is that anyone present when the button is pushed goes back in time as well, but just like you, they remember what happened before.”

“So why the punishment?” Jason asked, starting to get angry. “Didn’t I do what you wanted me to do?”

“Yes, you did son, but that does not negate the consequences that come with your actions.” His father sat down on the steps of the porch and he patted the step next to him for his son to sit as well. “You are receiving the consequence, not because you lied the first time, but because you broke the windshield and there are consequences to damages caused, even if it was only an accident.”

“So what good did it do me to tell the truth?” Jason asked.

“For starters, I can guarantee that you would have had a far more severe punishment if you had gotten away with the lie initially and I found out the truth later. But more importantly,” his father continued, “the value of what you did in telling the truth is that you retained my respect and my trust.”

“Those two things do not come easily, nor are they easily put back together once they are broken.” He looked at me and softly said, “There are two things nobody can ever take from you, but you can give them away at any time: your honor and your integrity. Once you give them away, it is almost impossible to get them back, and they will never have their original strength again.”

“The most important thing is that I know you can make the right decisions,” his father said, putting his arm around Jason’s shoulder. “But you need to understand something: that repeat button I gave you will never work again. From here on out, you have to make the right decision the first time. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.” Replied Jason.

“I love you, son, and I want you to do what is right;” his father said, “but you also must learn that there are consequences for your actions, even when you weren’t trying to cause harm.”

“Yes, sir.” Jason said again.

“So, which do you want as your first chore:” his dad said with a small smile, “mowing the yard or cleaning the shed?”

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“Come Try My Brand-New, Never-Before-Seen, Remedy For Sin!”

You see it all over Facebook, e-mails, and other forms of social media: the advertisers trying to get you to buy their new drug, remedy, food product, diet, or super-simple means of changing your life forever. People are constantly spending their days trying to find the latest, greatest idea or concoction to deal with things that, most of the time, already have answers that have been known and effectively utilized for generations. Often, the comments and responses from people include such lines as: “This looks cool,” or, “I’ll keep this to try later if _______ does not work,” or, “I guess it can’t hurt to try it.”

While it is true that there are some new things that are worthwhile, and for many of these things there is not a right or wrong decision to be made across the board, it must be recognized that there is a limit to which this mentality can be applied. Unfortunately, many people have taken this same mentality and applied it to religion as well. They jump on the band-wagon for whatever new idea or concept comes along. They affirm to people the necessity of simply “finding what’s right for you,” and they are constantly advocating how much they know that you cannot know.

However, this is not some new fad in regard to religion. Men have been trying to come up with new ways and means of salvation since the early centuries of Christianity. There are nearly as many ways man has tried to purport as acceptable means of salvation as there are cold remedies in the aisles of the local pharmacy. In the 3rd century men began arguing for the acceptability of sprinkling instead of immersion. In the 4th century, some began the practice of infant baptism as an acceptable means of salvation. In the 16th century John Calvin popularized the notion that there was nothing one could do to be saved, God either predetermined you to be saved or lost and you could not change it if you tried. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, men such as Moody and Graham popularized the idea of belief and prayer for salvation. While this is by no means an extensive list, it gives you an idea of the fads and beliefs that people have utilized with the same mentality as has been discussed above.

Like those cold remedies, there are elements of each that are the same. However, unlike a cold remedy (whereby you could take an inferior concoction and still get a meaningful result), taking an inferior remedy for sin will only leave you with one thing: sin.  You cannot take away sin with an inferior method or inferior practices, it can only be done by the system that was originally prescribed for its removal.

Utilizing systems that only go back a few centuries, instead of all the way back to the beginning, are not sufficient because they do not go back to the proper source. While religious leaders will use a modicum of truth and Scripture that seems to support their claims; but much like most of the above claims of new products, there is only enough Scriptural detail to pass a cursory glance. A deeper inspection removes the credibility of the claim.

If you go back to the original (the New Testament Scriptures), here is the prescription for the removal of sin: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 8:24; Acts 16:31), repent of your sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19), confess Christ before men (Mat. 10:32; Rom. 10:10), be immersed in water for the remission of sins (Mat. 28:18-20; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4), and remain faithful to God until death (1 John 1:7; Rev. 2:10).

This is the pattern Christ presented, both during and after his time on earth. It is the original, and only, God-ordained means by which one can be saved. Do not be confused by imitations claiming to bring forth a “new way” or an “easier way.” The path God gave is the one that works, and it will be the only one that leads to eternal life.

Remember the words of Paul: “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9), and utilize the teaching of John: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

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What Would Your Preacher Say About You?

Over the last week we have had a young man attending with us who has just moved here from another area. On Sunday he began to speak with some of us about liking it here and wanting to be involved with the congregation. This morning I called the congregation this, to all appearances, kind and considerate young man had previously attended. I wanted to let them know that he had been attending with us and hoped to find out a little more about him.

When I spoke to the preacher at that congregation this morning, the moment he heard the name, he knew about whom I was speaking. He quickly and happily began to tell me about this young man: how he had grown up in that congregation, was there every time the doors were open, was a young man of great character and was a hard worker in the congregation. The preacher immediately affirmed he could give the young man a ringing endorsement, and such he most assuredly did.

In the Scriptures we read of others, such as the apostle Paul, who was willing and able to give glowing endorsements of those who worked with him and had earned his trust. He speaks of two such men in Philippians 2:19-25 when he writes: “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.”

If your preacher was asked to describe you and give his recommendation concerning you, what would he say? Would he be able to readily acknowledge who you are and what you have been doing among God’s people? Would he be able to state that you were dependable in your presence and service, or that one could never know when you might arrive? Would he be able to vouch for your character, or have you lived in such a way that your character is questionable? Could he describe you as a hard worker in the kingdom, or would he have to say that he has rarely, if ever, seen or heard of you being active in working for the Lord?

We recognize that we live our lives to serve the Lord, not to receive the accolades of men. However, it is also true that as we serve God, the things we do and say become our reputation both inside of the church and in the community: as is seen in the lives of such men as Stephen (Acts 6) and Barnabas (Acts 4, 11). Therefore, we must make sure our light shines before men in a way that brings glory to God (Mat. 5:16).

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